JD(S) activists stage protest at Kaniminike over toll collection on Bengaluru-Mysuru expressway

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JD(S) activists staged protest at the Kaniminike toll plaza on Thursday.

BENGALURU: Activists of the Janata Dal (Secular), led by Nikhil Kumaraswamy, on Thursday staged protest at Kaniminke toll plaza against the state government and the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) over collection of toll on the Bengaluru-Mysuru expressway.

Hundreds of JD(S) workers from Ramanagara, Channapatna, Bidadi, Kengeri and nearby areas gathered at the toll booth and blocked the expressway for some time opposing the collection of toll. Later, they were detained by the police.

JD(S) leader Nikhil Kumaraswamy, Magadi MLA A Manjunath entered into an argument with the police.

Speaking to Public TV, Nikhil Kumaraswamy said the government and the NHAI have constructed the expressway only for the benefit of the rich. “Poor people are apprehensive that they will be asked to pay toll. It is not correct to start collecting toll without providing basic facilities. I discussed the issue with former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda and he said he will write to Union Minister Nitin Gadkari about it. If the issue is not resolved, we will intensify our protest”, he said.

Earlier, Magadi MLA A Manjunath said the government pressured the officials and got substandard work done. “They are looting crores in the name of toll. The expressway has been designed unscientifically and this is daylight robbery. There are not CCTV cameras at the toll plaza, no toilets and many accidents have occurred here. We are locals, why should we pay toll? There should be no toll on local road users”, he said.

Nikhil Kumaraswamy alleged that the expressway was only for rich people.

NHAI moots closed toll for local users

In good news for motorists who use the expressway for short distances to towns along the ways, the NHAI has planned to introduce a closed toll, where toll is paid based on the distance travelled. This will help those travelling to towns like Bidadi, Ramanagara and Channapatna.

As of now, those using the expressway are required to pay the full toll of Rs 135 even for shorter distances, which motorists say is unjustified, and has often led to arguments with the toll booth staff. Hence, the NHAI has come up with the closed toll plan, which will be introduced for the first time in the state, and a detailed project report (DPR) has already been submitted.

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